Friends flock to lonelygirl15

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The studio behind Internet sensation lonelygirl15 has received funding from a group of investors including veterans of Netscape, Google and Mark Burnett Prods.

LG15/Telegraph Ave. Prods., which is being rebranded as EQAL, will receive a $5 million Series A round of financing led by Spark Capital. Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, Conrad Riggs of Mark Burnett Prods., Silicon Valley venture investor Ron Conway and former Google director Georges Harik also are investing in this round.

Company CEO Miles Beckett, president and COO Greg Goodfried and Mesh Flinders launched "lonelygirl15" in June 2006, and it quickly became a viral hit on YouTube. In summer 2007, Beckett and Goodfried launched "KateModern" on Bebo, a social network popular in the U.K. that is being acquired by AOL.

Beckett and Goodfried explained that the funding isn't tied to a specific new project; they're looking to "build the corporate infrastructure" and hire programmers, developers and ad sales workers. The studio now has eight full-time employees, with "lonelygirl" and "KateModern" employing production units of 12-14 people apiece.

"Prior to raising the money, we really could've continued producing the shows," Beckett said. "But there's lots of opportunities out there, and we wanted to have that money to hire those extra programmers and sales people so we can grow."

Beckett and Goodfried said they will continue to creative interactive shows but on "a bigger scale."

Beckett said the company was profitable in 2007, making money from advertising, brand integration, creative licensing and distributing the shows through platforms like YouTube.

The two said they started the round in November. They met Riggs, who previously was an angel investor of the company, who in turn introduced them to Conway, who "knows everyone," Beckett said.
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